What better way to showcase the cat-like reflexes of Jaguar's 2019 I-Pace than to allow a group of automotive industry professionals to guide the battery-electric crossover through an autocross course, then test it on the narrow, residential streets surrounding the Santa Monica Airport.
We converged with this group at Barker Hanger on a recent, somewhat chilly Southern California December day to take our first I-Pace drive, and the vehicle didn't disappoint. We can see why it has been named a finalist for utility vehicle of the year. Our test drive was part of the Jaguar Electrifies Experience in which the vehicle is touring the country — along with the rest of the Jaguar lineup — to key EV markets such as San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, and New York City.
The I-Pace arrives as the first electrified vehicle of any kind from Jaguar Land Rover. In 2019, others will arrive, including plug-in hybrid variants of Land Rover's Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The company is also considering fully electrified versions of its XJ flagship sedan and Range Rover.
Until now, Tesla drivers have been having most of the fun of driving electric vehicles, but the I-Pace is here to plant its flag. Its $69,500 starting retail price tag, excluding a $995 delivery fee, is about $25,000 lower than a comparable Model S or Model X without a significant drop-off in performance.
The I-Pace's range — an EPA-estimated 234 miles — does fall short of the flagship Model S, which can reach 315 miles when equipped with a 100 kilowatt-per-hour battery pack. The I-Pace gets by with a 90-kwh pack, which should be sufficient. Jaguar told us that their research indicates most EV drivers only need about 100 miles, based on real-world use.
In some ways, the I-Pace represents a new direction for EVs because it offers plenty of luxury amenities that keep you from being reminded that you're driving an EV. Its sleek lines, two dashboard screens, and boatload of torque create plenty of satisfying moments behind the wheel.
Of course, the I-Pace may be held back by an infrastructure challenge, because it's larger battery relies heavily on DC fast charging — a 240-volt (Level 2) charge takes about 13 hours. Tesla owners benefit from the company's Supercharger network of DC fast chargers. Volkswagen's diesel penance initiative Electrify America has begun building out more DC fast chargers, but these will take several years to come online.
So it may come down to owners who have a Level 2 charger at their home or office and can keep the I-Pace plugged in for several-hour intervals at home or the office. Regardless, we're just glad this vehicle has arrived, because it makes EV driving so much fun.
Originally posted on Automotive Fleet